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SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - A nifty little desktop gadget has proven to be a popular Christmas gift for Island weather enthusiasts.
It’s a small globe-shaped barometer made out of glass.
Owners use a syringe to fill the globe with water (and food colouring for some added pizzazz) and watch as atmospheric pressure makes the liquid wax and wane.
If the coloured water is high in the globe and low in an attached spout, it’s a sign of clear skies, but the opposite can indicate foul weather on the horizon.
“Yes, it was, I would say, the most popular Christmas gift this year,” said Duane MacDonald, dealer/owner of Callbecks Home Hardware Building Centre in Summerside.
MacDonald said this particular barometer is a Home Hardware exclusive, and his staff first noticed they were popular in the lead-up to Christmas 2017. They ordered more than usual this year, receiving 150 from their supplier in November, and sold out in two days. They managed to secure another, larger shipment but quickly sold out of that one, too.
MacDonald estimates his Summerside store sold more than 500 of the barometers between the start of November and Christmas Day. Many more customers have inquired about them since, only to come up empty.
“I had thought by ordering 500 we had got ahead of the demand, but we were quite surprised by the interest in them for a second year,” he said.
“I had thought by ordering 500 we had got ahead of the demand, but we were quite surprised by the interest in them for a second year.”
The barometers were in similar demand at other Island Home Hardware outlets.
MacDonald said he got calls from other store managers looking to see if he had any extras, as they had burned through their stock quickly as well. The Facebook group P.E.I. Weather Discussion, which has just under 10,000 members, has a number of comments from people reporting stores are back-ordered nearly until spring.
The barometers continue to be popular in that Facebook group, in particular, as people started posting post-Christmas pictures and many commenters wanted to know where to get one of the gadgets.
Tanya Ann Snook managed get one of them for her family and was excited to try it out.
“They are neat in how they work, and (I) love the fact that we will know when bad weather is coming from a pretty little glass bulb,” she said.
Another commenter, Vanessa Bulman, added, “To me it is a small way to be a part of the Island community, being able to talk to my virtual neighbours about our globes... sort of a 2018 ‘some weather we're having, eh?’ small talk.”
As for exactly why the barometers are so trendy, MacDonald mused it’s a combination of their price point, usually about $15 but they were on sale for $9.97, and the love/hate relationship Islanders have with their weather.
The YouTube video below shows instructions on how to use a similar barometer: